MOTORISTS are being warned to be extra cautious as roads get busier, and to be wary of the increased presence of cyclists and pedestrians this summer.
A new campaign was launched this morning by the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Siochana, on the theme "We're on the road back. Make it a safer one."
The campaign coincides with the lifting of travel restrictions from 5km to 20km, or anywhere within a person's own county.
Drivers are being advised to slow down. They are also being asked to avoid distractions and to take care when passing pedestrians and cyclists.
Pedestrians are asked to use footpaths and to walk facing oncoming traffic.
According to the RSA, there were 26 fatalities in Ireland from the start of Covid-19 restrictions on March 13 to June 7. This was compared with 35 in the same period last year.
Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA, “In the run up COVID-19 travel restrictions being put in place, we saw a spike in road traffic collisions. In fact, over the six days from 17 to 22 March, there were nine people killed on the roads. I am concerned that this may be repeated as travel restrictions are gradually lifted.”
She continued: "While fewer people were killed during the period of restrictions, the level of road deaths was unacceptably high when you consider there was a seventy percent drop in traffic volumes. I am also fearful that as people start getting back on the roads, they will fail to realise that there is now a changed environment on our roads, not only are children on their summer holidays, there are more people out walking and cycling, all the while trying to social distance.
"As the restrictions are relaxed, it is more important than ever that we share the roads safely. Drivers need to slow down and be mindful of these vulnerable road users.”
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, said:“People have done so much over the last three months to tackle the coronavirus, save lives and protect public health. The commitment we have seen across the country has been extraordinary. But road safety is also a public health issue and we need to see the same commitment from all road users to saving lives on our roads.
"We know from the data that most road deaths are preventable; most collisions are as a result of human behaviour. So just as we have adapted our behaviour in the face of a pandemic, we must be prepared to change our behaviour to meet the challenges with more of us walking and cycling on the road.”